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Does the decree absolute cut financial ties with a former spouse?

View profile for Emma Roberts
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Ministers plan divorce law overhaul

The answer is “no!”. However this is a very common and potentially costly misunderstanding. 

The decree absolute ends your marriage but only a financial order can cut your financial ties. Without a sealed financial order from the court settling the financial matters between you both, in the event that you acquire money, property or other assets from any source including inheritance, lottery wins, gifts or personal endeavour your former spouse may be able to make a claim against the same. 

If you found yourself in the same position as Mr Ade Goodchild who recently became the 15th biggest lottery winner in UK history after receiving a windfall of £71,057,439, the lack of financial order could put a significant portion of your windfall at risk. It must therefore have come as some relief to Mr Goodchild that his ex-wife has no interest in the money stating “he can keep the lot” if he did not have an order himself.

Whilst it is often possible for parties to agree the division of their assets amicably between themselves and whilst this is not to be discouraged, without a financial order enshrining the terms of the agreement reached your former spouse may be able to seek a claim against you in the future (unless they have re-married or entered into a civil partnership). It is a straightforward process to secure the concluded agreement in a financial order and is normally always for the benefit of both parties.

Please also note that if your former spouse dies before a financial order is made, on decree absolute you may lose entitlement to benefits under the terms of their pension or life insurance policies as you will no longer be their widow/widower.

It is also possible that you may be financially associated with your former spouse and this could have a detrimental effect on your financial situation if they were made bankrupt and you still own assets jointly, or an adverse credit rating against them by affect your own credit ability.

Here at Stephensons our specialist team of family solicitors are on hand to advise and support you to achieve a financial settlement or to assist you in ensuring the agreement you have worked hard to reach with your former spouse is made into a financial order. If you require legal advice please call us on 01616 966 229.